30 June 2009

2006: Long-winded Dark

30 June

I'm feeling a bit antsy, and I won't bore you with the details, but the last few days have been spent around Pedernec due to weather (a bit) and pain (a lot). Suffice to say, French medicine doesn't take a backseat to anyone. Fast and inexpensive, too.

So, it's time to take myself to the coast to refresh. Another hike around Presqu'île Renote Reserve is taken, and it's a gorgeous and warm day. The early-morning fog has mostly evaporated, and the humidity has ratcheted up a bit. Boulder-scrambling is fun when there are plenty of HUGE boulders and no lack of traction. While it's unfortunate my sea birds (gannets, terns, etc) have not returned since my first visit, it's still peaceful and worth every minute of the visit.

Later, I am driving towards Trébeurden via the coastal highway and, while crossing a tiny stream named "Le Samson", I espied a Little Egret. It was quite the adventure to find a place to get down to the beach, with most of the land in the area privately-owned and farmed (corn and wheat, mostly). However, one trail was found.

With the exception of the gannets, everything else I was looking for was here, if "Way Out There" as the tide headed out. Approaching on the estuary mud was not as difficult as the mudflats at Jetty Island, but they had their own challenges, and the birds once again were skittish in the extreme. Given this, I will be wandering out onto the flat early on Monday (weather-permitting). By then, the tide will be chasing them in towards land, as opposed to going out. There were some shorebirds in quantity that have not been ID'd yet, and I'd like to get closer photos of those...

So, it's been a tiring day, and I'm on the way home. As I get closer to Lannion, there is a major traffic jam on the approach from Lannion into Trébeurden: land yachts (they call them caravans here) parked along the side of the road for well over one kilometre, and only two gendarmes (policefolk) sorting things out. It looked as if this ritual occurred every year, and holiday-makers were taking everything in stride.

Oh, and as I watched (and photographed), more caravans appeared by the minute. I could easily imagine within the hour a line reaching back several miles...


Driving at night on the local country roads can be a nightmare. During daylight, you can more easily judge how much clearance you have between the edge of the road (which may be dirt, ditch, building, people, or tall hedgerow) and oncoming traffic when passing a vehicle, how large the oncoming traffic is, and of what the edge of the road is composed. As such, I tend not to drive after the sun has gone down unless I know for a fact I'm traveling on a divided highway for the vast majority of my trip.

Hmm. I just wrote a long diatribe about the time difference between where I am at the moment (Pedernec, 300 miles west of the Prime Meridian) and London (smack-dab on the PM). Rant aside, the official time in downtown Pedernec right now is one hour later (11.15 as I write this) than London (10.15), even though sunrise here occurs 15 minutes after (give or take). The only rationale I can come up with is that France either does not have daylight savings (in which case, it is in the GMT timezone) or it does (in which case, it is in the CET (Central European Timezone)).

Where am I going with this? Well, beyond the interesting thought that "earlier" is further west at the moment, daylight is still visible locally at about 10pm, if only barely, and it doesn't get dark until after 11pm or so.

And DARK IT GETS. Pedernec has street lights, but they don't shine downtown (what little of Pedernec downtown there is) except on Saturday evenings. Very few homes are lit at night by ANY light, and most doors and windows are shuttered. Light pollution in this area just isn't a problem, so you get truly dark skies if your interest is looking at the stars. Therefore, at the moment, driving at night is an exercise only for those who need to drive around midnight or later.

Goodness, I can be long-winded about nothing at all. Go figure...

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